Peace and reconstruction of the human spirit
By Jairo Guzmán *
Speech to the World Meeting of Directors of International Poetry Festivals
Peace and reconstruction of the human spirit
The great hope, the supreme aspiration of the free spirit in connection to floating, to pure reverie. A beautiful chimera, experienced ephemerally and whose permanence is the great desire before a history smothered in its lakes of blood. Yearned-for peace before the law of historic being, determined by war.
In the words of Henri Michaux: “War! Man, always him, man with his head full of numbers and calculations, feeling the lack of exit in the vault of his adult life, needing a breath of air, wanting to give a little life to his narrow movements, and becoming more trapped as he attempts to make way for himself”.
A group of anthropologists says that it was weapons that made us human. Wielding our stone tools, we shed animal innocence and began to face nature armed with the first technology. We forcefully entered a new technological level, and everything we left behind was primitive. Thus, technology created and determined human culture. And the most basic technology of all is the weapon. This is a rash concept, because it argues that war is in our proto-historical marrow and is part of our human essence. This cannot justify us as a species that purports to be highly civilized, an axis of culture and builder of worlds.
In the second decade of the 21st century, the atavistic factors justifying war are already an exotic chapter in this new time of technologic specialization and computerized war. Wrapped in a media blaze, in a paranoid nebula of powers struggling for globalized hyper-control, war is an increasingly oppressive specter, and only the media impact of its devastations has created concern in a world population frightened by a global threat which proliferates in small wars at the outskirts of the world, where there will always be wars that justify arms dealing relating to a devastating war industry that profits from the killing of thousands of people.
We know that a poem will not stop massive killing in the wars of the 21st century. We know that poetic actions to stop the arms race can be clearly and efficiently defined by using the resources of communications and taking the floors where the position of poets shall be listened to as a spiritual heritage struggling for self-preservation and the preservation of the human species through constructive action. This self-preservation instinct of the species, this dignity that poetry has reclaimed under the sun, this spiritual battle which poets have fought throughout the centuries, crystallizes in congregational performances, in media-impact global interventions, using high technology available in a globalized economy of planetary regions interconnected by the electronic networks of the Internet and by satellite global coverage systems. We know that, faced with the thrusts of barbarity, poets have and will have spiritual resources for resistance, through operations that will have an impact on awareness, through alliances and enterprises intervening the human congregation environment for the staging of symbolic, verbal, artistic and poetic powers for transforming the historic conditions that ossify the spirit and mental lucidity and take over contingencies. When all the paradigms of modernity are broken, and way is made for a readjustment of capitalism, implementing the Integrated World Capitalism (IWC), now called Globalization, it is pertinent to observe the situation of the world poetic experience, and the poetic actions for the globalization of poetry as a way of counteracting the devastating effects of the globalization of economy, through the different means of proliferation and world control.
If the gap between the human and the animal is basically inside of man, what must be reformulated is the very question of humankind and “humanism”. In our culture, man has always been thought of as the articulation and conjunction of a body and a soul, of a being and a logos, of a natural (or animal) element and a supernatural, social or divine element. We now have to learn to think very differently, of man as the result of the disconnection of these two elements, and to inquire, not into the metaphysical mystery of the conjunction, but into the practical and political mystery of the separation. What is man, if he is always the place –and, at the same time, the result– of ceaseless fragmentations and gaps?
To work upon these divisions, to ask ourselves how, in himself, man has been separated from non-man, and the animal from the human, is as urgent as assuming a new attitude vis-à-vis the great questions on the so-called human values and rights.
In the words of Alexandre Kojéve: “The disappearance of Man at the end of History is not, thus, a cosmic catastrophe: the natural World is still what it has been since forever. And it is not a biological catastrophe either: Man remains alive as an animal that is in agreement with Nature or with the given Being. What disappears is Man strictly speaking, i.e. the action which denies the given and the Error, or, in general, the Subject opposed to the Object. In fact, the end of human Time or of History, i.e. the final annihilation of man strictly speaking or of the free and historic individual, simply means the cessation of the Action in the strong sense of the term. Which means, practically, the disappearance of war and of bloody revolutions. And, besides, the disappearance of Philosophy: for, when Man himself no longer changes in the essential, there is no longer any reason to change the (true) principles that are at the base of his knowledge of the World and of himself. But all the rest can be maintained indefinitely: art, love, the game, etc., and, in short, everything that makes man happy”.
Interlinking and recovery of nature
Poetry has been the engine of human transformations. History is a brief but sharp and cunning chapter, in our existence, before which poetry surpasses its contents and epics. Ecosophy is formulated as a solution to the ecologic imbalance, caused by technical, technological and scientific transformations, which has become a threat to life in the short term.
In this nebulous time, the only clear thing is that we are faced with the complex problem of the inaction of the world’s executive environments, which have not yet taken action to face this problem as a whole. It is evident to the world that the solutions proposed by the technocracy have been partial and insufficient. In the words of Eduardo Galeano: “The world’s health is in a filthy state. ‘We are all responsible’, the voices of universal alarm clamor, and the generalization absolves: if we are all responsible, then no one is. Like rabbits, the new environmental technocrats are breeding. It is the world’s highest birth rate: experts breed experts and more experts who busy themselves in wrapping the issue in the cellophane of ambiguity. They manufacture the hazy language of exhortations to the ‘sacrifice of all’ in the statements of governments and in the solemn international agreements that no one fulfills”.
The solution offered by ecosophy is an ethical-political articulation of the three ecologies: environmental ecology, social ecology and individual (or mental) ecology. We know that the answer to the ecological crisis must take place at a planet scale, through deep political, social and cultural transformations. In the environment of clashing economies, which hugely contribute to devastation, it is urgent to implement new guidelines that will radically contribute to the reorientation of the purposes underlying the production of material and immaterial goods.
Important contributions are also required in order to build new environments for sensitivity and desire. We know that there is a fence made of the different prevailing modes of assessment, among which there stands out the empire of a world market imposing equivalences between material, cultural and natural goods; social and international relationships are dominated by sophisticated global police and military entities; national states are at the service of the transnational markets’ and military industries’ interests; and, among the most serious aspects, there is the increase of vast zones of destitution, starvation and death as a system for stimulating the transnational capital.
All the above leads us to experience the so-called “paradox of the present”, i.e. that the ongoing development of new technical-scientific media, potentially capable of solving ecologic problems and of rebalancing the socially useful activities in the planet, is countered by the inability of organized social forces to use these media in their support and make them efficient.
Regarding this crucial matter, that serves as a starting point for understanding our current climatic, ecological, social, spiritual and ethical emergency, it must be taken into account that the traditional dualistic oppositions and the geopolitical circumstances that formerly guided social thinking are already outdated, and that conflictive situations continue, but in contexts incompatible with Manichean ideologies; besides, the opposition between Third World and developed world no longer exists, because new industrial powers have arisen, which have prompted the thirdworldization of developed countries, there is a growing immigration associated to a growing racism, and thus we see a new map of human conditions inscribed into a globalized economy, in a world scenario that is rather complex as regards the human species’ permanence on the planet. From poetry we can derive the three ecologies, and in fact this has been done and is done in cultures based on a sense of living less traumatic than the western one. In view of this scenario, we propose the deep poecosophy, which consists of articulating into the ecosophic practices the poetic practices or actions before the globalized world. This is a radical reassessment of everything existing up to this moment. It is a question of starting from scratch. It is a question, ultimately, of recovering ourselves, as everything is a result of our fragmentation.
Unity of the human spirit and cultural diversity of the people
One single spiritual impetus marks the life of human beings on earth. To let the human spirit consolidate in lucidity, vision and emancipation from the alienating and oppressive forces has been the task of poetry, its silent action and emblem of resistance. Resistance against the opprobrium of barbarity, beaming a summoning light which congregates the powers of the spirit through knowledge of the world and awareness development.
Now, more than ever, poets are called to great transformation. Their minds have been preparing themselves for a long time, since they were expelled from the republic. It is time for the poet to intervene, to make that voice heard which represents the great number, the voice of the tribe saying the great truths and making itself heard by the representatives of the powers who dreadfully conduct an atrocious, devastating and genocidal economy.
The poet will begin to be the deep ecologist, the one who shall disseminate the new awareness that has arisen in anticipation of a new celebration on earth, after overcoming a dark age of two thousand years of dead prayers. He will disseminate the urgent need to radically change everything – to call into question everything that is associated to the decadence of technocracy, the overexploitation and torture of nature.
It is a propitious time to promote full awareness of our transitory condition. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche: “the greatness of man lies in knowing himself a bridge and not an end; what is lovable in man is that he is a transit and a twilight”.
We are faced with a scenario in which the convergence of representatives of different cultures, social and ethnic groups is made possible thanks to the summoning power of poetry as factor for spiritual cohesion between cultural, language and racial diversity.
With these congregational practices, which have a clear purpose of urgent transformation of our way or relating to the living, the spirit is being directed to a new type of demand – the demand to redefine everything in terms of a new awareness.
Thus, the conjunction of voices modulates a common spirit, a rhythm of the human species represented in a warp of cultures. The spirit of poetry breaks the sieges of multiculturalism. Poetry is the ecology of the symbolic ecosystems, and its ability for union amidst diversity enables the creation of the great conjunctions.
Material indigence and spiritual wealth
It is not I who cries: it is the earth that roars. /Beware! Beware! The devil has gone mad! /Hide yourself in the clean bottom of the springs, / merge into the windowpane, /hide behind the fires of diamonds, /under the stones, among the insects, /hide in the newly-baked bread ,/oh, you, poor you, my poor. Attila Joszef
One of the most regrettable situations of our times is the fetishism for false values that conceal a perverse asepsis – conceptions that say a lot about the promoters of such a phraseology and redemption purposes, such as that of eliminating poverty. Fight against poverty, war on poverty. In other words: let us eliminate the corpus delicti. Let us eliminate the mirror that shows the face of our crime. Do we suppose that eliminating poverty will make us prosperous and worthy as a species, better as human beings? Actually, the question lies in eliminating the spiritual poverty of those who manipulate the destiny of globalized supraeconomies. The message of these neoliberal campaigns about ending something inherent to wealth and which is called poverty, is that wealth is the great moral virtue, and poverty the worst of moral flaws. Thus, the great globalized masses, in their social-climbing tics, suffer from shameful poverty. They feel guilty of a crime in which they are the victims. The victimizer is the most righteous of all in this new morality of devastation and of extermination of life and ethical achievements. The sustainability of poverty is the guarantee of the permanence of the wealth of great monopolies, of great multinational companies that rule over the new global order, leading the world population to a new role within a totalitarianism that is teledirected, teletransported, TV-broadcast and trapped in global control’s network of networks. All the panoply of digital technology is at the service of the new slave, an apparently autonomous subject in its technologic bubble that monitors him, connected to the “big brother”, a tyrannical but invisible entity that sees all and controls all. A total of 1,020 million people went hungry in 2009, which is a record figure, as reported by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), based on the analyses of the Agriculture Department of the United States. Said agency attributes the increase to the world economic crisis, which has reduced incomes and increased unemployment, leading to a reduction in the access to food by the less privileged. According to the FAO, most of the planet’s undernourished population lives in developing countries. It is calculated that some 642 million people suffer from chronic hunger in Asia and the Pacific, 265 million in sub-Saharan Africa, 53 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, 42 million in North Africa and the Middle East, and 15 million in developed countries.
Chronic hunger: therein lies the crux of the matter. In a certain term, it is conceivable that the progression of agrifood techniques will enable modifying the theoretical bases of the drama of worldwide hunger. But in the meantime, and in the practical arena, it would be completely illusory to think that international help, as currently conceived and provided, will solve any problem with lasting effects. The long-term instauration of immense destitution, hunger and death zones seems to be from now an integral part of the monstrous “stimulation” system of the Integrated World Capitalism. Dignified and authentic poverty is a luxury of the great and true humans: “long live small poverty”, Nietzsche used to say, but chronic Hunger is worse than any devastation – a true ecological crisis of the extermination of the human animal – a true catastrophe which we do not feel, do not perceive, due to the narcosis of the superabundance of media distractions in our city lives. In the face of this fatality, it is necessary for poetry to raise its songs and for poets to issue lucid and coherent opinions and for their voice to be heard and heeded. Poetry basks in its hunger and thirst for infinity, but supports the hungry and fights the hunger that dreadfully decimates more than a billion people in the world.
Spiritual wealth is great, is the legacy we have received from humankind’s millennia of struggles to remain until achieving dance, symbols, devices, incantations, visions, revelations, knowledge, magic and learning, scientific or otherwise. The great human adventure is a poem written in its “eccentric proposals”.
Even the erratic path in which we are immersed has its spiritual greatness, and it would be too farfetched to blame human beings again, and call them unredeemed narcissists. The whole symbolic construction of humankind is an invaluable treasure that will light our way in the dark night of being. The distilling of everything we have inherited will be one of the tasks of the human spirit, in order to renew itself in its vision and projection into the future, with its burden of uncertainty and overdeveloped awareness of disaster.
The mere distilling of the essential into the poetic adventure is a matter in which poets have a lot to contribute, building with their visionary eye the bases for poetry’s field of action as a factor for transforming awareness and spirit. The poet’s mind has long ago made progress in the dislocation necessary for assuming the urgent transformations at the level of our notion of everything that is humane and divine. Beginning from scratch. Turning the page of a two-thousand-year era that threw us into the dungeons of a painful science.
Upon the death of the era that offended the body, viciously instilling a false notion of the spirit, we attend the birth of a new time for the redefinition of the whole misunderstanding that led us too far from the great wisdom which converses with nature and walks alongside it, instead of subjugating and torturing it.
This is the time of poetry, the time of the communicable vision, the time of the great spiritual challenges in this transition towards a new version of the human.
Actions towards the globalization of poetry
The first globalization of poetry that we know of is the globalization of the human species through the diaspora originating in Africa 35,000 years ago. How much onomatopoeia, how many solace and incantation songs arrived as poetic revelations to those constantly moving men, with their ever-unslaked thirst for infinity and knowledge.
True poetics of the human animal, whose evolution has given it devices of tools and utensils until it arrived at this new globalization, where techno-scientific advances turn the planet into a bubble of instant, trans-local and transnational interconnections, as a part of a new stage in capitalism which arranges itself for implementing a new production mode, the Globalization, as a result of the Integrated World Capitalism.
Many are the expectations vis-à-vis this new stage of human life in the planet. After this journey, this wandering through millennia, we have settled in the cities and have sown the flower of our delirium: a chaos of noise and scrap, of lethal fumes and poisonous gases, is the daily cocktail which adds to the social chaos generated by economic chaos and by the crazy overexploitation and alienation. There is a lot to be done in favor of a social reorganization on the basis of a new formulation of interpersonal relationships, which shall blossom into a real coexistence, driven by creation, imagination and a poetic outlook on the things of this world. Regarding this matter, the essay Ecosophical practices proposes: “To reconquer the outlook of childhood and of poetry instead of the expert and the technocrat’s dry outlook, blind to the meaning of life. It is not a question of opposing the utopia of a new ‘heavenly Jerusalem’ such as that of Revelation, to the harsh needs of our times, but of establishing a ‘subjective city’ in the very heart of these needs, reorienting the technologic, scientific and economic aims, the international relations (particularly between North and South) and the great machinery of the mass media. To let go, in fact, of a false nomadism that actually leaves us right where we were, in the void of a spent modernity, in order to access the vanishing lines of desire... To create the conditions for the appearance (as a consequence of a re-appropriation of the reins of our world) of an existential nomadism as intense as that of pre-Columbian America’s indians or that of Australian aborigines”. This proposal is a beautiful libertarian invitation, poetic and quite full of lucidity. It is an invitation to assume our practices of reorientation and reassessment around the concepts of culture, art, society and geopolitics, in a life-oriented, permanently renewed spirit. The globalization of poetic actions is a strategy of the poets organized around a transcontinental network of transforming projects in the countries that most require the different contributions that poets may propose in the scenario of the globalized world, or, to use the current expression, the glocalized world (the glocal is the local, synchronized to the global). In that sense we have the local poetic actions as the active part of the global poetic actions. With the pertinent adjustments, the local experience serves as a complement or implement for the poetic actions of other areas of the planet, different from the locality of origin. This interconnectivity of poetic projects at the global level shall set the tone for future transformations in different fields, from anthropological to pedagogical, and even deeply transforming the poetic, on the basis of social transformation by a mental ecosophy from the poetic experience. It is necessary to concomitantly disseminate actual information that achieves deep penetration in the social layers, while obtaining front-page coverage in the world’s main media. For that dissemination it is necessary to make hitherto unthought-of interconnections with social groups of poets not perceived in the conventional scenario of local cultures. This transpoetic revolution will mark the beginning of the weaving of a digital network with important achievements at the global level.
All the results of these alliances of worldwide poetic projects will be the buffering, confronting and protecting mesh against the thrusts of integrated world capitalism, whose intercultural sustainment and promotion has a negative impact, since it promotes cultural policies that distort the true meaning of the cultural and adapt to a machinery of cultural industries that have nothing to do with poetry, which is the voice of the global tribe. The time of the globalization of communications, of economy, of the police, of militarism, of devastation, of hunger and poverty will mark a new moment for the poets of the planet, who will now do what they were formerly not allowed to do by the powers jealous of their ascendancy on the human being. The globalization of poetic actions presupposes a plan in accordance with the current dynamics of this stage of integrated world capitalism. Poets know the dimension of this commitment, which will be a starting point towards a renewed awareness pointing out their ascent through spiritual transformation.
It is a question of performing planet-level interventions, in the sense of effectively contributing to the battles against the great monsters of trans-modernity (or toxic post-modernity) and of knowing how to resist the rage of the climate monsters, the chilly monsters of neoliberalism and the media monsters; then we will be someplace true and edifying, through the globalization of poetic actions, many of which are being carried out on an ongoing basis. It is necessary to realize many more poetic actions, which shall create a new scenario where poets can at last act – because it is in the rubble where poets best work at modeling life, in accordance with the dream of poetry and never again with the nightmare of reason. The poet was expelled from the Republic, and that has helped him arm himself with new tools that make him the great transformer.
* Representativel of the Direction Committe of International Poetry Festival of Medellín
July 1º, 2011